The North America Nebula lies in the constellation Cygnus (the Swan). It spans a large 11/2 degree swath and is some 50 light years across. The "Gulf of Mexico" is fairly distinctive and then a lot of imagination is needed! The nebula is a HII emission nebula that is illuminated by one or more stars. Pentax 105SHDF APO with TV 0.8x reducer, Canon 10D, October 2004, Summit County, CO.